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Greetings from Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST)! The new Ridership Forecast Report detailing the projected increase in bus ridership as a direct result of the SURF! Busway and Bus Rapid Transit Project is now available.

VISION & OVERVIEW

The SURF! Busway and Bus Rapid Transit Project is part of Monterey-Salinas Transit’s larger vision for:

  • Connecting communities.
  • Creating opportunity.
  • Being kind to our planet.

Once buses are in service, SURF! riders will enjoy:

  • More travel time options and more frequent transit service
  • Better, more reliable transit without getting stuck in Highway 1 traffic
  • Quiet, modern, and zero-emissions buses

SURF! buses will travel the same routing as existing Line 20 between Salinas, Marina, Sand City, Seaside and Monterey as well as 5th Street Station in former Fort Ord. Riders will have a seamless one-seat ride with connections throughout the Monterey Peninsula, Salinas, and beyond! Here’s what’s included with the SURF! busway:

  • A five-mile busway – road for buses only – parallel to Highway 1 next to the old rail lines, from Marina to Sand City and Seaside. Here buses will bypass traffic congestion.
  • One mile of new multiuse trail extensions from Beach Range Road in Marina and Sand City with improved access to the Fort Ord Dunes State Park and the planned Fort Ord Regional Trail and Greenway (FORTAG) network.
  • A new multimodal mobility hub in former Fort Ord with a safe drop-off and pick-up area, public parking with EV charging, and bicycle and mobility amenities including a bicycle repair station.
  • New transit stops serving Marina, Sand City, and Seaside.
  • Traffic signal upgrades and improvements in Marina, Sand City, and Seaside for better traffic flow.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS FOR ALL

From concept through planning and into implementation, every stage of the SURF! Project has been carefully guided by MST’s core vision:

Connecting communities.
  • Improving transit service withfast, easy, and seamless travel from the Salinas Valley to the Monterey Peninsula and points in between.
  • Connecting SURF! riders with another 25 transit lines expanding the reach of SURF! to JAZZ, CSUMB, Line 5 Monterey-Carmel, Line 23 Salinas-King City, Line 59 Salinas-Gilroy, and more.
  • Increasing transit ridership to over 927,000 passengers annually (2027 Line 20/SURF! forecast) and growing. Learn about the projected increase in bus ridership as a direct result of the SURF! Busway and Bus Rapid Transit Project in the Ridership Forecast Report.
Creating opportunity.
  • LinkingSURF! riders to employment, business, shopping, education, healthcare, and recreation.
  • Providing fast, lower-cost travel from affordable housing to major job centers and education.
  • Creating$113.99 M in economic benefit including 981 direct construction-related jobs and induced economic activity for the Monterey Peninsula (calculated using the American Public Transit Association Economic Impact Calculator).
Being kind to our planet.
  • ReducingGreenhouse Gas emissions that contribute to Global Climate Change by the equivalent of 1,933 annual acres of forest sequestered. (Horizon year 2045 and based on the EPA GHG Equivalencies Calculator: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator)
  • Reducing vehicle trips by over 500,000 per year.
  • Using only new, modern zero-emissions buses on the SURF! busway.

PROJECT PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS

Since inception, the SURF! Project has been a community-supported effort. Meet our esteemed partners and avid supporters helping to connect Monterey County residents and visitors with faster and more frequent transit options:

  • Congressman Jimmy Panetta
  • Senator John Laird
  • Cities of Marina, Monterey, Seaside, and Sand City
  • California State Parks
  • California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • LandWatch Monterey County
  • Caltrans
  • Monterey Firefighters Association
  • Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
  • Blue Zones Project
  • CHISPA
  • Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
  • Marina Chamber of Commerce

WHAT WE’VE HEARD FROM OUR COMMUNITY ABOUT SURF!

To build a modern transit network that works for everyone, MST and our partners at the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) have conducted extensive public outreach to learn what the community wants for transit service and amenities in connection with the SURF! Project.

As of February 2024, MST and TAMC have participated in over 140 meetings with stakeholders and community members, including an open house in Marina in August 2022, a SURF! Transit Fair & Family Fun Day in June 2023, and an open house in December 2023.

Here are the community’s top priorities and concerns, based on what we’ve heard so far:

Multimodal Access

Many community members mentioned a lack of first- and last-mile access—including park-and-ride facilities, bike racks, and drop-off bays at transit stations—as top priorities. Hearing this, we included a new multimodal transportation hub at 5th Street Station in the former Fort Ord that includes better amenities to suit every traveler’s needs!

See MST Multiuse Trails slide deck

Bus Stops

Many riders expressed a desire for improved features at bus stops, including real-time transit information displays and better protection from weather, so we were pleased to showcase new bus station designs featuring improved amenities and sheltering!
5th Street Station, Marina
Bus Stop
Palm & Del Monte, Marina
Playa & California, Sand City
Playa & California, Sand City

Future Rail

There is general community support for future rail service. While the SURF! Project focuses on bus rapid transit (BRT) as the most immediate and effective way to grow ridership while reducing congestion now, the Project design protects the railroad corridor, and tracks that are parallel to Highway 1 for long-term rail service to return.

Environmental Preservation

MST’s vision for being kind to our planet extends to the SURF! and it’s no surprise that many residents voiced concerns about impacts to the habitats and wildlife around the Project area.  We share this deep respect for the environment, which is why MST is working with California State Parks and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District to aid and accelerate planned protection and restoration efforts around Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Marina State Beach, and Marina Dunes Preservation.

MST will help remove invasive species (i.e. ice plant) and plant native species suitable for our microclimate. Trees and vegetation removed during construction will be carefully replaced and, where possible, planted at a higher ratio, preserving the region’s beautiful vistas for everyone to enjoy! We are also timing the removal of trees to avoid the nesting period of birds and bats.

MST is working with local conservation partners to help accelerate coastal habitat restoration activities for generations to enjoy. Our shared commitment to protecting the environment is what has made Monterey one of the most beautiful places in the world to live and visit.

GET INVOLVED!

We’ll be rolling out new ways to engage and influence the SURF! project as it advances and new design concepts become available. If you’re as excited about the SURF! project as we are, sign up for updates and/or reach out to let us know what you think.

CONTACT US

Ask questions or share comments on the SURF! Project by contacting us below:

Phone: 1-888-678-2871

Email: customerservice@mst.org

Mail: Monterey-Salinas Transit
19 Upper Ragsdale Drive, Suite 200
Monterey, CA 93940

INFORMATIONAL MATERIALS

ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTS

SURF! BUSWAY AND BUS RAPID TRANSIT PROJECT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Answer. The SURF! Project is the latest Project in Monterey-Salinas Transit’s (MST) ongoing effort to improve and modernize our regional transit network. The Project includes two components.

  1. A five-mile, bus-only roadway parallel to the heavily congested segment of Highway 1, from Marina to Sand City/Seaside. New bus stations and amenities are included with an extension of the popular Beach Range Road trail in Sand City and Marina. The SURF! busway and stations will be built along publicly the owned rail line and within MST property.

    The rail line linked Monterey and San Francisco with passenger service from 1880 to 1971. In 2003, the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) purchased the unused line from the Union Pacific to preserve it as a transportation corridor for mass transportation purposes only with a grant from State Proposition 116 funds.
  2. Transit Service. Bus service on the bus-only lane will allow passengers using Line 20 Salinas-Monterey (MST’s second most used transit line) and all other bus service traveling between Salinas, Marina, Seaside, Sand City, and Monterey to quickly travel past Highway 1 traffic. Riders traveling by bus on the new busway and other transit services that connect to Line 20 will have better access to California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), the VA Department of Defense Clinic, beach access to Fort Ord Dunes State Park, the Dunes, and military neighborhoods.

Answer. Bus rapid transit (BRT), also called a busway or transitway, is a bus-based public transport system with features that include bus-only lanes and priority traffic signaling. These features result in greater capacity, increased reliability, better traffic flow, and fewer vehicles on the road overall. A BRT-centered strategy allows MST to maximize the efficiency of our transportation system.

The BRT system in Monterey County, which will include SURF! as well as the existing JAZZ! line, is a core part of MST’s larger efforts to build a modern mobility network to connect our communities.

Answer. MST has released a new Ridership Forecast Report containing Projections for ridership growth as a result of SURF!.

Answer. When SURF! is complete, bus riders will enjoy frequent, reliable, and affordable transit throughout the Monterey Peninsula, Salinas and beyond, saving time and money.

Walkers, wheelers, and cyclists will enjoy the benefits of the Beach Range Road trail extensions in Marina, Sand City, and Seaside.

Other benefits of SURF! include:

  • Modern, zero-emissions buses for cleaner air and a healthier planet
  • Reduction in microplastics and pollutants that flow into Monterey Bay from vehicle tires
  • More travel options for access to work, shopping, healthcare, education, and coastal recreation
  • Traffic signal priority upgrades for better traffic flow

Answer. The SURF! Project includes several improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians, including one mile of new bicycle and pedestrian trail extending the Beach Range Road trail. The Project also includes trail enhancements, including better lighting in urban areas and new and improved pedestrian crossings for greater safety at street intersections.

A new crossing from Marina Drive to Reindollar Avenue will also provide pedestrian access that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for residents on the west side of Marina Drive to businesses across Del Monte Boulevard.

New or improved connections to existing and planned recreational trails are included at:

  • Palm Avenue/Del Monte Boulevard (Marina)
  • 5th Street Station (former Fort Ord in Marina)
  • California Avenue (Sand City)

See Multiuse Trails slide deck

Answer. Using city streets or roads slows down bus travel time, making transit usage less convenient and discouraging ridership. By using the publicly owned railroad corridor (while preserving the railroad corridor for future rail service), SURF! will decrease travel time and encourage more transit ridership. Transit that is frequent and reliable is a proven way to encourage and increase ridership.

Using the shoulder or the center of Highway 1 has many challenges:

  • California Highway Patrol strongly opposes buses operating on the shoulder, citing serious safety reasons.
  • Travel time savings are minimal compared to travel time savings on the SURF! busway.
  • Shoulders are not currently wide enough for buses, and significant widening would be needed.
  • Bridges over Highway 1 would be affected and are costly.
  • Construction costs due to extensive retaining walls and bridge work are much more than the SURF! Project.
  • There would be more environmental impacts including visual impacts with Highway 1 alternatives.

Answer. Only MST maintenance and emergency vehicles will be able to use the busway. Other high occupancy vehicles, including rideshare, carpools, and school buses, will continue to use Highway 1 and will benefit from reduced traffic along Highway 1.

Answer. A light rail option was extensively studied and considered between 2003 and 2014 and determined to be infeasible due to costs, low population density, and low probability of receiving state and federal funding support. Construction of rail facilities including a train yard would be a significant new project with additional environmental, aesthetic, and cost implications. The tracks will require significant upgrades to meet current Federal Railroad Administration safety requirements for passenger service. To fully realize utility of the rail corridor and provide public benefits sooner, bus rapid transit (BRT) is the most effective way to build and grow transit ridership.

Light rail remains TAMC’s long-term vision for the Monterey Branch Line corridor. In fact, one of the major design goals of the SURF! Project has been to preserve the railroad corridor parallel to Highway 1 for use in the future when ridership demand is higher than today.

Answer. With more frequent and reliable service, there are more travel options for more people to take transit, leading to fewer cars on the road overall. While MST may increase the number of buses, the result will be less traffic on city streets. Read the Traffic Impact Assessment conducted for the SURF! project.

Answer. Since the initial phases of the SURF! Project in 2019, MST, in partnership with TAMC have conducted and participated in over 140 meetings with stakeholders and community members. More than 4,200 people attended these meetings. An online survey in February 2021 indicated overall community support for the Project. Additional feedback has been received from the SURF! Transit Fair & Family Fun Day in June 2023, at a public meeting in December 2023, and at various tabling events in our community.

MST incorporated community input from these meetings, events, and surveys to develop a Project design that minimizes impacts and maximizes community benefits.

MST will continue to hear input from the community. Additional outreach events and tools will be announced throughout 2024 as SURF! obtains permits for construction.

Answer. MST estimates the construction cost of the SURF! Project at $68.7M. Preconstruction costs are estimated to be $9.4M. In total, MST estimates the total cost of the Project will be $78.1M.

Grant funding restricted to the SURF! Project have been secured from the following federal, state, and local sources:

Grant Funding Source

Amount

Federal 5307 formula

$69,000

Federal Capital Investment Grant

$22,170,000

CA SB 1 Local Partnership Program

$100,000

Senator Laird State Earmark (CA Assembly 178)

$2,500,000

State Transit & Intercity Rail Capital Program Grant

$25,000,000

TAMC (Local) Measure X

$27,394,305

MST Capital (General Fund)

$851,670

Total

$78,084,975

Answer. MST is coordinating closely with federal, state, and local agencies and organizations, including:

 

  • S. Federal Transit Administration
  • California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
  • California Coastal Commission
  • Cities of Marina, Seaside, and Sand City
  • Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC)
  • California State Parks
  • Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District
  • Interested environmental, social equity, and community organizations